Picking a Sustainable Coffee to Brew
There’s almost nothing better than a morning cup of Joe. Coffee drinking is so ingrained into our everyday life and our culture that we take it for granted. These magical beans help our digestion while keeping our gallbladder and liver healthy. Did you know that? Of course, coffee also gives us a boost when we most need it. How do we choose the best coffee for us? There’s dark roast, light roast, Arabica beans and more, but what about the environmental and social impacts? Is coffee good for the environment?
How can we know which coffee brands are committed to environmental and social best practices?
While there are hundreds of coffee varieties available today, there are select brands that take the crown when it comes to ethical and social principles. Look for coffee brands that are looking to minimize their carbon footprint (I personally believe that simply buying carbon offset credits stifles innovation and fosters a lack of transparency). There are inevitable emissions inherent in the coffee business, but at the same time there are known ways to reduce the environmental impact. Let’s do it right from the start! The best green coffee brands take energy into account at all stages of the supply chain, including delivery, roasting and distribution.
Direct Trade is usually used to describe coffee beans purchased from roasters directly from growers rather than from intermediaries or importers. Many coffee roasters will purchase coffee directly from cooperatives to ensure fair working conditions in growing and harvesting coffee. As part of this initiative, some will even import coffee from agricultural cooperative groups that support smallholder farmers around the world. Look for brands like these.
Keep in mind that you’re also consuming this product and it’s better for both your health and the environment to buy coffee that’s harvested using traditional farming methods that are 100% chemical-free. Also, make sure to ask if they roast their beans in low-consumption roasters. Try to only buy from farmers who harvest coffee under a natural shaded canopy and all of their beans are free of chemical, preservatives and synthetic fertilizers.
It’s helpful to look out for brands who work directly with small-scale farmers and cooperatives who specialize in growing organic coffee in the shade. They should be active in coffee growing regions in order to forge good relationships with the farmers who use sustainable farming practices. This involves accounting fundamentals and record keeping to ensure that farmers have everything they need to run their business in the most sustainable way. It’s ideal if they source the coffee beans directly from farmers with established long-term and mutually beneficial relationships in their communities. Also, make sure to ask if they roast their beans in low-consumption roasters.
I hope this gives you a starting point of what to look for on your new coffee journey. If you have any particular brands to suggest, please leave them in the comments below.
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